The outreach component has three parts and is led by Dalton. A team led by Albert DeVries, an economist in the University of Florida Department of Animal Sciences, will evaluate the efficiency and profitability of increasing fertility in dairy cattle using genetic selection tools. The results of that cost-benefit analysis will be available online and will include a worksheet to help dairy farmers determine if the new technology makes sense for their specific situations.

Outreach also will include working with focus groups to better understand dairy farmer needs and to test the understanding of and the best way to describe genomics to the target audience. Dale Moore, director of veterinary medicine extension at WSU, will lead that part.

The third part entails transferring the technology of improving fertility using genetic selection tools to dairy farmers, dairy farm personnel and their advisors – in both English and Spanish – using DAIReXNET and extension road shows. DAIReXNET is an online resource for the dairy industry. Dalton and Mirielle Chahine, also of the University of Idaho, will focus extension work on developing bilingual educational opportunities for current and prospective dairy employees.

"Ultimately, the focus of our outreach component is to provide educational opportunities and tools to dairy producers, their employees and allied industry to increase fertility and the sustainability of dairy businesses,” Dalton said.

Complementary pursuits

The USDA grant dovetails with a grant Spencer and Neibergs received in August from the National Institutes of Health to study infertility in beef heifers and use that information to help increase the success of human pregnancies.

"It is a really cool opportunity,” Spencer said. "At the end of the day, through USDA and NIH, we hopefully will be able to impact a large segment of animal agriculture in the United States and leverage our findings for the benefit of both beef and dairy cattle. It’s exactly the way it should be – working together on a common goal and having a positive effect on animal agriculture.”

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